Turkey’s affiliations are swinging from West to East.

Turkey’s affiliations under the leadership of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan — a devout Muslim — are swinging from West to East. This is good news for the Arab world as Ankara is a major political and military player on the international stage with substantial clout. In recent times, Turkey has thawed the freeze with Syria by signing a slew of economic, cultural, social and strategic cooperation agreements and is mulling over lifting visa restrictions for Syrian and Lebanese nationals.

At the same time, Turkey is reaching out to Armenia by setting up a commission to study the World War I conflict that robbed the lives of over a million Ottoman-Armenians. Last October, Ankara and Yerevan signed protocols designed to establish ties that would result in the reopening of their border but the main sticking point is Armenia’s insistence that Turkey and the international community officially recognize the Armenian genocide. Turkey has always resisted that damning label and always insisted that those who died were casualties of conflict.

Simultaneously, the Erdogan government is cementing relations with Russia with trade and energy agreements; Russia currently supplies around 65 percent of Turkey’s natural gas requirements and may assist Turkey with the construction of a nuclear energy plant. This new closeness has resulted in plans to extend cooperation to the South Caucasus — traditionally within Russia’s sphere of influence — as well as visa-free travel for the citizens of both nations.

Likewise, Ankara currently enjoys good relations with Tehran. Earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki held talks in Ankara with Prime Minister Erdogan involving the transportation of Iranian natural gas to Europe via Turkey, establishing a joint refinery, jointly constructing industrial centers and increasing bilateral trade from $10 billion annually to $30 billion. The Turkish minister of state said Turkey is keen to begin a “golden age” in Turkish-Iranian ties. While Turkey is against nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, it backs Iran’s right to nuclear energy and does not support anti-Iranian sanctions.

But there the love fest ends. Ankara’s relations with some of its traditional allies are strained to say the least.

Its important strategic alliance with Washington, which culminated in America’s Incirlik Air base was shaken when the US invaded Iraq in 2003. Turkey was against the Iraq war from the get-go and blames it for strengthening Kurdish secessionist ambitions. And when, in 2007, the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs passed a resolution in favor of Armenia’s stance on the alleged “genocide,” Turkey temporarily withdrew its ambassador from Washington.

However, for its part, the US government tends to tread softly with Turkey in light of its NATO role as a strong eastern bulwark and its hosting of Incirlik which was a crucial asset during the Cold War and the 1991 Gulf War. Turkey’s importance to Washington was reflected by President Barack Obama’s official visit, last April — criticized within some US circles as blessing a country embarked on establishing a powerful Islamic bloc contrary to American interests. The US has also fervently backed Turkey’s efforts to join the EU, which has been somewhat of an annoyance to European countries that are vehemently opposed. Linda Heard
—AN

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Targeting Cuba in Pakistan

Dr. Shireen M. Mazari

Sometimes events and issues that arise, may seem purely coincidental, but on closer scrutiny actually have a definitive pattern and purpose. And so it has been with the issue of Pakistani students being sent to Cuba for medical degrees – all paid for by the Cuban government. This arrangement, a major boon for the average Pakistani seeking quality medical education, came about after Cuba extended extensive assistance in the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake. That exposed the Pakistani nation to the dedication and commitment of the Cuban people to other developing nations. Not only did Cuba send assistance, but a team of doctors stayed with the earthquake-hit people along with a minister for seven months. It was not simply of sending over excess supplies through huge excess delivery capacity but a people-to-people commitment that compelled the Cubans, with their limited resources to extend assistance to Pakistan.

The fact of the matter is that since Castro’s revolution in Cuba, when the country finally rid itself of the US imperialist hold that had been established through the notorious Platt Amendment appended on to the Cuban Constitution, Cuba has used its resources to help other oppressed and poor nations worldwide, with no conditions of race or religion. So we saw Cuba help the Angolans in their nationalist struggle against colonialism and we saw Cubans coming to Pakistan in its moment of need in 2005, and presently the Cubans are in Haiti helping the calamity-stricken people. Unlike superpower America, they have no agenda such as exploiting the poverty of the locals and kidnapping Haitian children out for adoption by Americans – just to put things in the proper perspective.

After the earthquake, the Cubans offered 1000 scholarships in the medical field for low-income Pakistanis and this gesture opened a potential gateway to success for these families – after all, none of them could afford medical education abroad in the normal course and few could afford it even in Pakistan. But since that time, periodically, a hue and cry is created about these students, despite the fact that issues raised have been settled. So is this a mere coincidence or is there a pattern to this periodic targeting of a nation that has truly reached out to the Pakistani masses?

After all, who would target Cuba and seek to destroy its relations with Pakistan? The answer requires little contemplation. The US has been trying to undermine the Castro regime since the success of the Revolution. It has continued to hold on to a piece of Cuban territory, Guantanamo Bay, effectively illegally, and has sought to unsuccessful military interventions in that country. Since 1959, it has continued to impose a financial and trade blockade of the Island nation, despite successive UN General Assembly resolutions demanded an end to this economic warfare against a member of the United Nations. These resolutions have been almost unanimous with the majority of the international comity of nations on one side, and the US, Israel and Marshall Islands on the other.

Nothing is too petty for the US when it comes to Cuba, especially when it concerns a state like Pakistan that the US feels should be solely within its sphere of influence and loyal to its agendas. Pakistan is having to pay a hefty price for this alliance with the US, and the Cuban issue is simply one small part of the larger game plan. But if 1000 doctors a year come from Cuba, undoubtedly they will offer the Pakistani nation a window on Cuba and how it not only manages to survive despite US efforts to economically strangulate it – thereby pointing a path to treat for Pakistan also – but also continues to interact with nations across the globe. Furthermore, doctors have an extensive reach within the community so the US knows the implications. Of course, there is also the contrast with the US directly in terms of the pitfalls Pakistani students have to face in seeking education in the US – not only in terms of visas but also in terms of financial costs and, post-9/11, harassment while in the US. Nor, heavens forbid, does the US offer anything to low-income families in terms of technical education in their country! All their visitor programmes are for the elite and their offspring’s!

Nor is it just Cuba. Any country disliked by the US, that offers anything truly meaningful to the people of Pakistan, sees direct and indirect, covert and overt impediments – all of which have a US imprint if one has studied the way the US thinks and works! Presently, Iranian efforts of assistance to Pakistan in the crucial sector of energy are also being undermined. Pakistan has effectively been pressured into shelving the – at least that is what it seems, given how the pipeline has been completed from the Iranian side and action is still awaited from the Pakistanis. Then there is the issue of electricity. Iran is already supplying certain border areas in Pakistan with this valuable facility. But it has also offered Pakistan 1000 MW, and according to Iranian sources this could be doubled to 2000 MW, on to the national grid. Why Pakistan is not responding positively to this offer when it has a severe power shortage, is anybody’s guess but given how we are not insane or irrational, one can assume there is some source of external pressure.

In the Cuban case, it is not merely random criticism of the scholarships that has arisen yet again, for the third year. Initially, the propaganda – for that is what it is effectively – centred on how there was no provision for the religious needs of the Pakistani students. This was absurd because the Cuban government did an extensive study of these needs including dietary habits and actually made the effort to cater to these needs, despite their own very diverse religio-cultural roots.

The other issue that continues to be raised periodically relates to campus conditions. Of course, Cuba is not the US or Europe in terms of resources and cannot offer campuses that cater to the rich. Yet, Cuba has so far hosted more than 43,545 medical students from more than 100 countries and has graduated over 100,000 doctors. Students from no other country have made an issue of these facilities.

Perhaps, the most consistent point on which the Cuban medical scholarships were and are targeted is on the fallacy that the Cuban degree was not recognised anywhere else. But this issue too is not grounded in reality because the Cuban medical programme is recognised internationally, including by WHO. As for the assertion that the Pakistanis will only get a paramedic degree, this is also factually incorrect. Clearly, the idea of the detractors of the Pakistan-Cuban cooperation is to spread as a big a lie as possible so that it takes time to refute it. This is a basic premise of propaganda as taught by the US – the use of the ‘big lie’!

The fact is that the PMDC, in June 2008, had informed the Pakistani media that it had recognised the Cuban medical curriculum and that all the doctors returning from Cuba would be treated, without discrimination, as any normal foreign degree holders and would have to sit in the NEB examination to be recognised for registration. The informed in Pakistan have examined and are satisfied on the issue, but the ignorant are easy prey for the propagandists. This is similar to what the Pakistani professionals returning from the Soviet Union were subjected to in the days of bipolarity.

That Cuba is a victim of similar propaganda, and from the same source, is evident. But it is unfortunate that ill-informed Pakistanis are falling prey to this. After all, Cuba does not have to do this for us. If we continue to cry foul, they can simply end the scholarships and who will be the losers then?

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Terrorists to train Indians to fight local terrorists

“Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death,” Rothschild Adolf Hitler.

“CIA’s report on Israeli terrorism and blackmailing of US officials – is similar to the 19th century anti-Semitic work the Protocols of Zion, ” Mossad chief


According to the Press Trust of India (PTI) – Seven Indian states (Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Orrisa, Andhra Pradesh, Chatisgarth and Jharkhand) have selected 30 senior officers for a special task force to deal with current Moist groups fighting against New Delhi. These police officers will go through a 30-day training at Ghatsila (Jharkhand). The instructors include Israeli experts (Massad, Sayeret Matkal, Shin Bet, Yamam, etc.)on so-called ’counter-terrorism’. Knowing the past record of these Israeli terrorist agencies in the assassinations of the US, European and Muslim leaders – one would not be wrong to guess that ‘task’ of the 30 Indian officers would also include the target assassination of Moist leadership. Israeli sources have confirmed that the current Israeli ‘assassination list’ includes Iranian president Ahmadinejad, Turkish prime minister Erdogan, Venezuela president Hugo Chavez, Hizb’Allah leaders Sheikh Nasrallah and Hamas’ leader Mishaal. Israel’s has just assassinated one of the founder of Hamas’ miltary wing, IZZ al-Din Qassam Brigades, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. Israel did not evenspared its fellow Jewish US ambassador to Lebanon, John Gunther Dean, during 1978-81 (both parents Jewish), because he was against Israeli attack on Lebanon.

Israel is also pioneered the ’sky terrorism’ – the drone in 1982. Last year when Tehran unveiled its home-made drone – the media claimed that Iranians have stolen their technology. Israel Occupation force (IOF) has used hundred of its drones in Gaza and Lebanon. The US and NATO forces have used Israel-made drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Russia has become the second largest customer after the US of Israeli drones. Turkey is also expected to receive long-delayed four Israeli drones. Israel’s drone manufacturers are in the process of developing more effective drone to be used against Islamic Iran.

Israeli terrorist and their agents in the US, in the past, have been involved in flase-flag operations in Zambia, US Information Library in Cairo, US embassy in Amman, attack on El Al at Orly Airport, Chadian guerrilla operation against Libya’s Gaddafi with the help of Saudi Arabia, Bali bombing, Madrid train bombing, 9/11, London terminal bombing, Meshaal’s poisoning, Sheikh Ysin’s assassination, Mumbai terrorist attacks, Syrian and Iranian threats, etc. etc.

Only if the American can find what Dubya Bush meant when he said: “Your enemies are not surrounding your country. Your enemies are ruling your country”. More history of Israeli terrorism here.

Chennai-based journalist, Trevor Selvam, on January 31, 2010, under the heading India For Selective assassination Of it\’s Own Citizens?, wrote:

“India takes up more than 50% of Israel’s arms exports. It has also been known that India manufactures under license the Russian gas-fired, super sniper semi automatic Dragunov SVD59. Now comes the report of a special training session involving at least 30 top ranking officers who have just completed special training under “foreign” instructors. Nothing works in Indian media lingo than “foreign hand.” But of course, in this case it does not matter, because the foreign hand is only for a good cause! These trainers are not bearded Jihadists or Asiatic desperadoes in the north east with Chinese made grenades.

Selective assassination, use of UAVs, missile attacks on selected homes and sniper fire has been a hallmark of the Israeli Mossad and Defence forces, not only in Gaza and the West Bank, but also in different parts of the world including South America, Iran and Europe. For the past several years it is now well-known that India has entered into very close collaboration with the IDF and over 32 non-disclosure arms and security agreements have been signed with them. The Mossad has titillated gun-and ammo freaks and underhanded counter-insurgency nutjobs with their secretive killing techniques. Assassination and murder that goes undocumented, un-prosecuted and never brought to light, when the Mossad is involved. The CIA fumbles, trips and gets blown up. Not the Mossad. That is why India has chosen them to deploy dirty tricks on India’s citizens….” -( Rehmat’s World)

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Israel ‘poisoned Hamas leader’: report

A hit squad that killed a top Hamas commander in his Dubai hotel room injected him with a drug that induced a heart attack, photographed all the documents in his briefcase and left a “do not disturb” sign on the door.

The body of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, 50, was discovered by staff at the luxury Al Bustan Rotana hotel after lunch on January 20. There were no suspicious signs and local doctors diagnosed a heart attack.

Nine days later, after blood samples sent to Paris for analysis showed signs of poison, Hamas announced his death and blamed Mossad, the Israeli overseas intelligence service, for the assassination.

Al-Mabhouh was one of the founders of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, the Islamic organisation that seized control of the Gaza strip in 2007.

According to Middle Eastern sources, al-Mabhouh, who was the official responsible for arranging arms supplies from Iran to Gaza, was tracked from the moment he boarded Emirates flight EK 912 at Damascus at 10.05 on January 19.

He was said to have been travelling on a false passport and on arrival in Dubai was followed by two men described by local police as “Europeans carrying European passports”.

Al-Mabhouh left Gaza in 1989 and moved to Damascus. Israel blamed him for the abduction of two Israeli soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Saadon, both later killed.

Hamas said it would retaliate for the assassination by targeting Israeli officials in Europe. Israel made no official response to the Hamas claims. (The Sunday Times)

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The ‘Crescent North’

According to the latest statistics available, Islam is spreading at a fast pace especially in America, Europe, India and Russia. The Crescent North refers to the rise of Islamic forces from Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, and Central Asia. Islamic conquerors like Tam-erlane, Sultan Bayazid Yild-irim, Khairuddin Barbarossa, Ghauri and Ghaznavi who changed the course of history belonged to this area. The west confused by the rise of militant Islam in the Middle East has initiated a ‘Long War’ by triggering a Shia-Sunni conflict based on the Iraqi model; not realising that recent history has already set in motion the winds of change, with epoch-making consequences, this time coming from the steppes of Asia or the Crescent North.


The Long War was initiated to achieve multiple objectives, with initial foothold in Afghanistan and Iraq. The ultimate aim of the US and west was to create divisions in the Islamic world and get hold of the hydrocarbon hub of Caspian and the Middle East in order to continue exercising dominance over China and the rest of the world. Indiscriminate bombing of Iraq and Afghanistan and the penetration of intelligence and mercenary agencies, like Blackwater, into Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan to create chaos in these countries and spread confusion between various Islamic sects was a clever ploy to support this so-called Long War.


Iraq has already become an example for the entire Arab world. Every day bomb blasts in Shia and Sunni communities lead to violence between them. The agenda is to break-up Iraq into three countries – Kurdistan is one of them. This might ca-use anarchy whose impact would be felt in the wider Arab world. Knowing that sectarian violence can even lead to a war-like situation between Shias and Sunnis, the west wants to adopt this strategy to gain time and survive by vainly trying to improve their demo-graphics in the next 50 years. But they seems to have forgotten that all the major invasions of Europe came from the northeast, most of them from Central Asia and Turkey.


Now, the NATO forces have already started a new agenda in occupied countries in which the US army is playing a vital role. They are all focusing on Pakistan to destabilise and break it up. But thanks to Allah, we are still standing as one nation. The US/NATO forces have lost the war in Afghanistan and are leaving behind small crackers in the region. In the past 10 years, things have totally changed. While America and allies have been dividing and demoralising Islam by the media and military power in the Middle East and North Africa, things in the north have started to get in favour of Islam.


Qolşärif mosque - The largest mosque in Russia, Kazan

The future rise of Islam will come from Russia. Paul Goble (a specialist on ethnic minorities in the Russian Federation) has predicted that within the next few decades, Russia will become a Muslim majority state. This situation has alarmed the Russians as well as western leaders; today Russia has about 8,000 mosques while 15 years back there were only 300. According to statistics, by the end of 2015, the number of mosques in Russia will cross the figure of 25,000. Most alarming of all for the Russians and the west is: “By 2015, Muslims will make up a majority of Russia’s conscript army.” Russia’s white population is declining, but the Muslim population is growing at a fast pace. And in 2030 to 2040 its population will, most likely, have a big majority of Muslims.


The Turks also are abandoning the western culture, as their government focuses more on good relations with Muslim countries. The Israel-Gaza conflict has further strained relations between Turkey and the west. The degree of change in the Turkish public opinion during the Gaza conflict, and the scale of criticism of Israel that was manifest in popular demonstrations, may suggest that Turkish-Israeli and Turkish-western relations have been seriously damaged. The Turkish people support Islamic trends and culture. In the past years they have developed their economy at a tremendous rate. Politically, they have become more conscious of their Muslim identity; Turkey was the only Muslim country whose prime minister visited Azad Kashmir in Pakistan.


Afghanistan, another Muslim country, is already at war with the allied forces and the Afghan Taliban have pinned down the US/NATO forces. Today there are more US and NATO casualties in Afghanistan than ever before. Surprisingly these simple people have defeated two big superpowers of the world within a span of three decades. In this backdrop and the well conceived saying, “Afghanistan is the graveyard of superpowers”, America today has started to initiate peace talks with the Taliban.


The flag of Pakistan is meant to represent the country's Islamic heritage with its use of the crescent and star against a dark green background.

Last but not the least comes Pakistan, a country at war, a country facing economic crisis, a country with power shortages, a country full of corruption, and a country having problems in managing its resources. But it is a nuclear power, produces 10 percent of the world’s food, has the most efficient Islamic army, has millions of patriots and has the identity of being the fortress of Islam. Despite the nexus of Indo-US-Israel and 20 to 30 members of NATO to support terrorism in Pakistan; it is still standing.


Today Pakistan is at centre stage of the Crescent North. The rise of Pakistan will be seen when the US and its allies exit Afghanistan. The Taliban will again form government and lay the foundation of real AfPak. Yes, there will be an AfPak; but quite different from the western agenda. The two countries could move towards forming a confederation-like alliance. Hopefully, it will be a regional power of the next decade and may merge into the North Crescent to assume a bigger role.

(See also:  The Inevitable Pakistan-Afghania Union: “A” in Pakistan is for “Afghania”)

The best course for Muslims of the world is to come to the right path of Islam. The west must stop roaming around in the south; if it really wants a challenge, it should visit the north where the crescent revolution is taking shape. by Umar Waqar

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Islamabad-Istanbul links: $20 Bln Rail Upgrade Project

ISTANBUL (Turkey): Pakistan and Turkey agreed Monday to undertake a US $ 20 billion project to upgrade a railway link from Islamabad to Istanbul, basically to speedily transport cargo from Pakistan to Turkey and ultimately to Europe.

This was decided in a meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul. The meeting continued for one hour as President Abdullah Gul said that three companies of his country were interested in constructing Bhasha-Diamer Dam in Pakistan.

President Zardari is only a four-day visit of Turkey to attend Trilateral Summit as well as Istanbul Summit on Afghan issue besides discussing bilateral matters with Turkish leaders.

The five-year rail project envisages to curtainI travel time between Islamabad and Istanbul, via Tehran, from the current 11 days to ultimately three-four days as a track between the two cities already existed but facilities available required upgradation.

Emphasising that Pakistan and Turkey needed to intensify cooperation in various fields, with focus on economic ties, President Zardari said that Rail link of Pakistan with Turkey, via Tehran, would play a crucial role to achieve these objectives.

Transportation of cargo by Air has become expensive while sea trade is normally slow, President Zardari said. So the cargo rail link could provide a speedier option to expand economic ties between the two countries as well as with Iran.

A comprehensive presentation was given to the Pakistani and Turkish Presidents on the 6,566 kilometres Rail project from Islamabad to Istanbul, via Tehran, with 1,990 kilometres track situated in Pakistan, 2,570 kilometres in Iran and 2,006 kilometres in Turkey.

This rail link will strengthen Pakistan’s economic as well as people to people ties with not only brotherly Muslim countries but also onwards to Europe, remarked President Zardari who floated the Islamabad-Istanbul cargo train idea last year when an experimental train was run on the route on August 14.

He also stressed that the areas around the rail track should also be developed so that benefits of increased trade could be passed on to respective people. Zardari impressed upon business community of Turkey to not only enhance trade relations with Pakistan but also to take advantage of lucrative investment opportunities in his country.

I paid my first foreign visit to Turkey as PPP Co-Chairman after the martyrdom of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the President said. It reflects the importance the democratic government of Pakistan attaches to relations with Turkey.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that besides constructing Diamar-Bhasha Dam through its private sector, Turkey also planned to open branch of a Turkish bank in Pakistan, probably in Islamabad.

Gul invited Zardari to a state visit of Turkey, which the latter accepted with visit to take place at a mutually convenient date.

An Urdu-Turkish and Turkish-Urdu dictionary, compiled by an Ankara-based Pakistani, Dr. Furqan Hameed, was also presented to the two Heads of State.  ~Pakistan Times

Dangerous Crossroads: U.S. Moves Missiles And Troops To Russian Border

Nuclear and Conventional Arms Pacts Stalled

Rick Rozoff | 2010 is proceeding in a manner more befitting the third month of the year, named after the Roman god of war, than the first whose name is derived from a pacific deity.

On January 13 the Associated Press reported that the White House will submit its Quadrennial Defense Review to Congress on February 1 and request a record-high $708 billion for the Pentagon. That figure is the highest in absolute and in inflation-adjusted, constant (for any year) dollars since 1946, the year after the Second World War ended. Adding non-Pentagon defense-related spending, the total may exceed $1 trillion.

The $708 billion includes for the first time monies for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which in prior years were in part funded by periodic supplemental requests, but excludes what the above-mentioned report adds is the first in the new administration’s emergency requests for the same purpose: A purported $33 billion.

Already this month several NATO nations have pledged more troops, even before the January 28 London conference on Afghanistan when several thousand additional forces may be assigned for the war there, in addition to over 150,000 already serving or soon to serve under U.S. and NATO command.

Washington has increased lethal drone missile attacks in Pakistan, and calls for that model to be replicated in Yemen have been made recently, most notably by Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who on January 13 also advocated air strikes and special forces operations in the country. [1]

The Pentagon will begin the deployment of 1,400 personnel to Colombia to man seven new bases under a 10-year military agreement signed last October 30. [2]

This year the U.S. will also complete the $110 million dollar construction of new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania to house at least 4,000 American troops. [3]

The Pentagon’s newest regional command, Africa Command, will expand its activities on and off the coasts of that continent beyond current counterinsurgency operations in Somalia, Mali and Uganda and drone flights from a newly acquired site in Seychelles. [4]

But this month has brought even more dramatic and dangerous news. The Pentagon has authorized the completion of a $6.5 billion arms deal with Taiwan with an agreement to deliver 200 Patriot Advanced Capability anti-ballistic missiles. The People’s Republic of China is infuriated, as Washington would be if the situation were reversed and Beijing provided a comparable arsenal of weapons to, for example, an independent Puerto Rico. [5]

As though that action was not provocative enough however, on January 20 the Polish Defense Ministry announced that a U.S. Patriot missile battery, and the 100 American soldiers who will operate it, would not be based on the outskirts of the capital of Warsaw as previously announced but in the Baltic Sea city of Morag, 35 miles [6] from Poland’s border with Russia.

The missile battery and troops are scheduled to arrive in March or April. As part of the Obama administration’s new missile shield project, one which will be integrated with NATO to take in all of Europe and extend into the Middle East and the Caucasus, the Patriots will be followed by Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptor deployments on warships in the Baltic Sea and, for the first time ever, a land-based version of the same. “The Pentagon will deploy command posts of SM-3 missiles, which can intercept both short- and mid-range missiles…” [7] An SM-3 was used by the Pentagon to shoot a satellite out of orbit in February of 2008 to give an indication of its range.

Further deployments will follow.

The new, post-George W. Bush administration, interceptor missile system will employ “existing missile systems based on land and at sea… Deployment of the revised missile defense would extend through 2020. The first step is to put existing sea-based weapons systems on Aegis-class destroyers and cruisers. [8]

“Subsequently, a mobile radar system would be deployed in a European nation… More advanced, mobile systems would be put in place later elsewhere in Europe. Their centerpiece would be… Lockheed’s Terminal High Altitude Defense interceptor missiles and improved Standard Missile-3 IB missiles made by… Raytheon.” [9]

Last December Washington signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that formalizes plans for “the United States military to station American troops and military equipment on Polish territory” and “opens the way for the promised Patriot missiles and US troops to be stationed in Poland… as part of an upgrading of NATO air defences in Europe.” [10]

In October, shortly after U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden visited Warsaw to finalize the plan, Polish Deputy Defense Minister Stanislaw Komorowski met with his opposite number from the U.S., Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow, and announced that the American missiles “will be combat-ready, not dummy varieties as Washington earlier suggested.” The same report added that “Earlier, Ukrainian and American officials stated that Ukrainian territory may be used in some way in the new antimissile shield.” [11] Poland borders Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave, but Ukraine has a 1,576 kilometer (979 mile) border with Russia.

The State Department issued a press release on the agreement to deploy American troops to Poland, the first foreign forces to be based there since the end of the Warsaw Pact in 1991, which stated “The agreement will facilitate a range of mutually agreed activities including joint training and exercises, deployments of U.S. military personnel, and prospective Ballistic Missile Defense deployments.” [12]

A Pentagon spokesperson said “U.S. Army Europe will help the Polish Armed Forces develop their air and missile defense capabilities. Considering the cooperative training we already do with the Polish Armed Forces, this Patriot training program is just another extension of that effort.” [13]

If earlier plans to deploy ground-based midcourse missiles to Poland evoked, however implausibly, an alleged Iranian missile threat, the Patriots can only be meant for Russia.

Russian Lieutenant-General Aitech Bizhev, former commander of the United Air Defense System of the Commonwealth of Independent States, told one of his nation’s main news agencies:

“It’s completely unclear why the air defense group of the northern flank of NATO needed strengthening – NATO has manifold superiority over Russian conventional armaments as it is.

“It can’t be ruled out that the stationing of the Patriots in Poland may be followed by other actions in building up the American military infrastructure in Eastern Europe…” [14]

The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms expired on December 5 and has been extended, but no agreement has been reached on a new pact, 48 days later.

At the end of last year Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was asked about the delay and identified the main impediment to resolving it: “What is the problem? The problem is that our American partners are building an anti-missile shield and we are not building one.”

He further defined the problem: “If we are not developing an anti-missile shield, then there is a danger that our partners, by creating such ‘an umbrella,’ will feel completely secure and thus can allow themselves to do what they want, disrupting the balance, and aggressiveness will rise immediately.”

In respect to how prospects for the reduction, much less elimination, of nuclear arms in Europe and North America were faring, Putin added, “In order to preserve balance… we need to develop offensive weapons systems,” [15] reiterating a statement by his nation’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, a week before. The timing of the announcement that the Pentagon will soon station Patriot missiles so close to Russian territory will not help matters. Nor was the State Department’s contention that “the START follow-on agreement is not the appropriate vehicle for addressing” the issue of “missile offense and defense.” [16] Read more of this post

One day we all will be terrorists!

“Dissent is no longer the duty of the engaged citizen but is becoming an act of terrorism.”

– Chris Hedges (in an article of the same title)

My generation grew up in a different Pakistan. A different Lahore, a different Karachi, a different Peshawar, a different Quetta, a different Islamabad and an entirely different country.

In Lahore, people sat in Pak Tea House and Coffee House and talked about politics, poetry, religion, culture and friendships gave birth, on a daily basis, to youthful romanticism of our times: the mutual seduction of kindred spirits within the confines of our cultural values and the gentleness of Urdu poetry, songs, geets (lyrics) and the Lahori humour. We celebrated basant (the kite-flying festival), maila-charagha (the festival of lights) and Urs Data Gung-Baksh (the festival of a saint). We observed Muharram with great reverence.

Karachi used to be alive 24 hours a day all year round. It was a city of “lights”, “fashion”, hustle-bustle of a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. Ethnic diversity and tolerance was the hallmark of this city.

Peshawar was a beacon of hospitality, a tribute to human gentleness and an affirmation of a rich community life.

Quetta’s apple-laden trees decorated its roads everywhere and the Balochis colourful existence found its spirit in its music, songs and even in its cuisine. Moreover, Pakistan’s rural society existed in purity, simplicity and the zealousness of hard working people.

Pakistan was a different country then: we lived in relative peace, tolerance and mutual harmony. A delicious puri nashta cost one rupee, petrol was Rs 2.50 a gallon, schooling was cheap, sugar and food were plenty, and a round-trip by PIA from Lahore to Karachi was Rs 250.

The majority of Pakistanis were poor even then, but there was no mass starvation, deprivation suicides, forced prostitution, massive collective depressive communities, agonising socio-psychological conditions, economic collapse, and no one knew of crippling demoralising inner fears. We did not know of institutional violence and extensive state terror – though police brutality and legal system atrocities were common, bureaucracy was horribly cruel, corrupt, inefficient and unbelievably powerful vis-à-vis the citizenry, commerce thrived on black marketing and the political class wholly and completely indulged in vested interests, inappropriate use of political power and mismanagement of state affairs.

Even though we lived with a million vices as a nation, but strangely enough, life was not as painful as it is in today’s democratic Pakistan. Neither was the entire nation, every one of its citizens, gripped with such forceful, depleting and paralysing fear – a fear that the management of the survival of this country has gone out of control. A fear that we all may be blown away from existence the next moment, if not literally then at least in a metaphorical sense!

Do you realise the seriousness of our contemporary political crisis?

The present state of our deplorable existence is the work of our decade long political leadership inclusive of Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship and the incumbent political dispensation in the country.

The fundamental failure of our national policy is this country’s ruling elite’s destructive all time political-economic-military alliance with the US and its allies (now India included).

Even at the time that I have described as the “golden days” of Pakistan’s past, our ruling elite was fully and comprehensively politically engaged with the US and its allies. However the US was in a different political mode then: it was fighting its own self-invented “demons” – the communist ideology and the communist nations (though communism was not a threat – it was a political experiment to solve mass poverty). The objective of American foreign policy was global political-economic and military domination.

In the present day world, the policy objectives of the US and its allies remain same: worldwide imperialist hegemony and exploitation by the west’s multi-national corporations.

However, in the contemporary equation, the west’s enemies have been redefined: Now we are the “demons”. They have declared a war against Muslim nations, their people, their faith, their culture, their traditions, their values and customs, their history and even against their existence as we know it today. Huntington in The Clash of Civilisations warns that if we do not transform our civilisation to a western model, then we must be prepared for an ultimate obliteration through successive wars at the hands of the west: we are given no choices.

Seven hundred Pakistani citizens died in American drone attacks in 2009 alone. It is not accidental!

What the US and its western allies do not understand is that their present war is not against an economic-political ideology (communism). This war is against a people, a faith, a history, an existential reality, an entirety of a civilisation, an actual formidable historical presence and an enduring spiritual entity. They, the US and its allies (which include collaborating political elites in Muslim countries), cannot win this war. Indeed, they can unleash havoc, a wave of destruction (as they are doing now), but they cannot and will not win!

Coming back to the context of Pak-US relations, consider the following most plausible scenario in the immediate future:

Through covertly managed organised violence, collaborations, propaganda, bombings and political manipulations, the US succeeds in destabilising Pakistan to an extent of complete political chaos, limited anarchy and a near civil war situation. Under the pretext of threat to international security, American and NATO forces are moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Pakistan’s nuclear assets are seized, a puppet regime is installed: Pakistan is de-nuclearised, India (the newest US ally) becomes a dominant regional power, Iran is contained, China-Russia growing political clout is checked, the US/west’s historical global dominance is achieved – the world is saved!

Is that what the Pakistani nation wants and deserves?

Imran Khan’s perspective on Pakistan’s foreign policy and domestic priorities is correct: we need to politically-militarily disengage Pakistan from the US/west’s global objectives. We need to immediately end this so-called War on Terror against our own citizens. We need to negotiate peace with political dissidents in NWFP, Balochistan and in every corner of Pakistan. We must appreciate the fact that political dissent is not terror!

We ought to, by engaging our own citizens and political dissidents, quietly and secretly do a complete “cleansing” of the foreign elements and local collaborators involved in organised violence in our country. This can only be accomplished by a determined, independent, nationalist and highly efficient political leadership that can make the national policy without American influence and interference. And this is the ultimate requirement of our times.

At last, Mian Nawaz Sharif said something right the other day: the public in Pakistan needs to think in revolutionary ways now.

Allow me to go one step further: what we need is a revolutionary political leadership in this country. We deserve a change in the political mindset and political conduct of this nation’s leaders. We need fresh leadership in Pakistan.

We all do not need to be politically loyal to our contemporary political dispensation or to our present political allies. We must completely reject a global political system of US/west’s dominance.

We all ought to be political dissidents! After all, dissent is a vital element of the democratic political process. It is a duty of an engaged citizenry!

One day we all might be considered terrorists by our western “friends”.

Never mind. So be it!

–By Dr Haider Mehdi
The writer is an academic, political analyst and conflict-resolution expert.

How US, UK lost Iraq, Afghan war?

Wars are planned, financed and fought by governments, not by groups or ordinary people. Wars are based on political agendas and they long for complete control over resources, people and territory. Most wars would have multiple reasons, domestic, foreign and global outreach. The American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are fought to maintain US domination worldwide, to occupy the untapped natural resources of the Middle East, in particular oil and gas, and to protect the value of American dollar as a stable international reserve currency. In September 2000, the proactive policy paper written by the neoconservative intellectuals to envision the “Project for the New American Century” (PNAC): sets the milestone, seeking American domination over the rest of the world powers and to meet its energy needs, plans to occupy by force all the oil resources in the Arab Middle East. The blueprint supports military occupation of the oil-exporting Arab countries and regime change where it is necessary – to fulfill the PNAC policy aims of global domination. Centuries ago, German historian Carl Von Clausewitz wrote On War: “War is not merely a political act but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means.” The wars are declared by few and not the majority masses. The small ruling elite who plans and wages war is often afraid of citizenry reaction and refusal to accept the rationality of a war. Throughout history, European nationalism institutionalized the doctrine of war as a necessity to promote national interest and racial superiority over “the other” by using war as a means to that end. Most proponents of wars have used “fear” as one of the major instruments of propaganda and manipulation to perpetuate allegiance from the ordinary folks to the elite warmongers in a crisis situation. Sheldon Richman (“War is Government Program” ICS, 05/2007), notes that “war is more dangerous than other government programs and not just for the obvious reason – mass murder….war is useful in keeping the population in a state of fear and therefore trustful of their rulers.”



Ordinary citizens do not have passion for war as it disturbs their safety and security, and destroys the living habitats. The ruling elite, the actual warmongers, force people to think in extreme terms of hatred and rejection of others so that people would be forced to align with the rulers to support and finance the war efforts. Sheldon Richman describes how Herman Goering, Hitler’s second in command, understood the discourse of war making: “Of course the people don’t want war but after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether, it’s a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a Communist dictatorship.” (Sheldon Richman, “War is Government Program”)


Paul Craig Roberts (“The Collapse of America Power”: ICS, 03/2008), attempts to explain how the British Empire had collapsed once its financial assets were depleted because of the 2nd World War debts. Correlli Barnett (The Collapse of British Power, 1972) states that at the beginning of the WW2, Britain had limited gold and foreign exchange to meet the pressing demands of the war. The British Government asked the U.S. to help finance their ability to sustain the war. Thus, ‘this dependency signaled the end of British power.’ For its draconian wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America is heavily dependent on China, Japan and Saudi Arabia. It is well known that American treasury owes trillions of dollars to its foreign debtors and therefore, its financial dependency is increasingly becoming an obvious indicator of the end of American global hegemony and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that the US financial system has broken down and some of the leading banking institutions have gone into bankruptcy, the roller coaster repercussions can be seen across the American economic, social and political spectrum of life. Under the Bush administration, American capability and vitality has shrunk and in fact appears to be dismantled as a superpower in global affairs. It is no wonder that other nations of world no longer seem to take the U.S. and its traditional influence, seriously.

In the collapse of American power, Paul Craig Roberts stated: “Noam Chomsky recently wrote that America thinks that it owns the world. That is definitely the view of the neoconized Bush administration. But the fact of the matter is that the US owes the world. The US “superpower” cannot even finance its own domestic operations, much less its gratuitous wars except via the kindness of foreigners to lend it money that cannot be repaid. It is undeniable that the US is “bankrupt” because of the on-going wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. David M. Walker Comptroller General of the US and Head of the Government Accountability Office (December 2007). reported that “In everyday language, the US Government cannot pass an audit.”


Did the US hegemonic war achieve any of its set goals for world domination? Have the US and UK Governments secured any viable hydrocarbon energy routes to ensure their depleting gas and oil stocks and the much planned control over the Arab oil reserves? Is the US dollar still a welcomed international currency used by the world nations?


Mike Whitney quotes the retired U.S. Army General Ricardo Sanchez challenging the prevailing notion of the Bush Administration “Mission accomplished” in Iraq, when he asserted that the occupation of Iraq is a “nightmare with no end in sight.” The General claimed that the US administration is “incompetent” and “corrupt” and that the most American people could hope for under the present circumstances is to “stave off defeat” in Iraq war.


America and Britain appear lost, not knowing how to come out of the self-engineered defeat in wars against Islam. Both superpowers are led by ignorant and arrogant elite not having any knowledge to fight the wars except thinking big and jumping here and there to demonstrate their material possessions and transitory power. They even do not know the enemy and do not have one, well defined in their plans to fight against. Masses have sympathi
es with the true believers and the Islamic Resistance appears to have lost nothing. Taliban or other mujahideen fighting against the aggressors know their enemies and enjoin support of the masses without bribes and bank balances. They had no banks to declare bankruptcy and no Bush and C heney to go down in disgrace. The Mujahideen remain intact and active on all the fronts even buying weapons from the US and Russia to fight against them. American, British and Russian business establishments know well how to trade in global arms market. America and Britain lost the wars , the day they invaded Iraq and Afghanistan.


As a declining superpower, the US is extremely nervous not knowing how soon it could be replaced by smaller nations of the developing world or a combination of new emerging economic powers such as China, India and others. America is in desperate need of a Navigational Change. President Obama got elected with the moving slogan – “Yes We Can.” Would President Obama know how to make a navigational change when there is nothing left to navigate for Change?

—Dr Mahboob A Khawaja

USA is targeting CHINA through Yemen

The head of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, dropped in at Sana’a, the Yemeni capital last Saturday and vowed to Saleh increased American aid to fight al-Qaeda.


You cannot fight China without occupying Yemen…


A year ago, Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh made the startling revelation that his country’s security forces apprehended a group of Islamists linked to the Israeli intelligence forces. “A terrorist cell was apprehended and will be referred to the courts for its links with the Israeli intelligence services,” he promised.


Saleh added, “You will hear about the trial proceedings.” Nothing was ever heard and the trail went cold. Welcome to the magical land of Yemen, where in the womb of time the Arabian Nights were played out.


Combine Yemen with the mystique of Islam, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Israeli intelligence and you get a heady mix. The head of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, dropped in at the capital, Sana’a, on Saturday and vowed to Saleh increased American aid to fight al-Qaeda. United States President Barack Obama promptly echoed Petraeus’ promise, assuring that the US would step up intelligence-sharing and training of Yemeni forces and perhaps carry out joint attacks against militants in the region.


ANOTHER AFGHANISTAN?


Many accounts say that Obama, who is widely regarded as a gifted and intelligent politician, is blundering into a catastrophic mistake by starting another war that could turn out to be as bloody and chaotic and unwinnable as Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, on the face of it, Obama does seem erratic. The parallels with Afghanistan are striking. There has been an attempt to destroy a US plane by a Nigerian student who says he received training in Yemen. And America wants to go to war.


Yemen, too, is a land of wonderfully beautiful rugged mountains that could be a guerilla paradise. Yemenis are a hospitable lot, like Afghan tribesmen, but as Irish journalist Patrick Cockurn recollects, while they are generous to passing strangers, they “deem the laws of hospitality to lapse when the stranger leaves their tribal territory, at which time he becomes ‘a good back to shoot at’.” Surely, there is romance in the air – almost like in the Hindu Kush. Fiercely nationalistic, almost every Yemeni has a gun. Yemen is also, like Afghanistan, a land of conflicting authorities, and with foreign intervention, a little civil war is waiting to flare up.


Obama at Mid-Pacific Country Club, in Kailua, Hawaii. While playing golf what else has the president on mind?Is Obama so incredibly forgetful of his own December 1 speech outlining his Afghan strategy that he violated his own canons? Certainly not. Obama is a smart man. The intervention in Yemen will go down as one of the smartest moves that he ever made for perpetuating the US’s global hegemony. It is America’s answer to China’s surge.
A cursory look at the map of region will show that Yemen is one of the most strategic lands adjoining waters of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula. It flanks Saudi Arabia and Oman, which are vital American protectorates. In effect, Uncle Sam is “marking territory” – like a dog on a lamppost. Russia has been toying with the idea of reopening its Soviet-era base in Aden. Well, the US has pipped Moscow in the race.


The US has signaled that the odyssey doesn’t end with Yemen. It is also moving into Somalia and Kenya. With that, the US establishes its military presence in an entire unbroken stretch of real estate all along the Indian Ocean’s western rim. Chinese officials have of late spoken of their need to establish a naval base in the region. The US has now foreclosed China’s options. The only country with a coastline that is available for China to set up a naval base in the region will be Iran. All other countries have a Western military presence.


The American intervention in Yemen is not going to be on the pattern of Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama will ensure he doesn’t receive any body bags of American servicemen serving in Yemen. That is what the American public expects from him. He will only deploy drone aircraft and special forces and “focus on providing intelligence and training to help Yemen counter al-Qaeda militants”, according to the US military. Obama’s main core objective will be to establish an enduring military presence in Yemen. This serves many purposes.


A NEW GREAT GAME BEGINS:


First, the US move has to be viewed against the historic backdrop of the Shi’ite awakening in the region. The Shi’ites (mostly of the Zaidi group) have been traditionally suppressed in Yemen. Shi’ite uprisings have been a recurring theme in Yemen’s history. There has been a deliberate attempt to minimize the percentage of Shi’ites in Yemen, but they could be anywhere up to 45%.


More importantly, in the northern part of the country, they constitute the majority. What bothers the US and moderate Sunni Arab states – and Israel – is that the Believing Youth Organization led by Hussein Badr al-Houthi, which is entrenched in northern Yemen, is modeled after Hezbollah in Lebanon in all respects – politically, economically, socially and culturally.


Yemenis are an intelligent people and are famous in the Arabian Peninsula for their democratic temperament. The Yemeni Shi’ite empowerment on a Hezbollah-model would have far-reaching regional implications. Next-door Oman, which is a key American base, is predominantly Shi’ite. Even more sensitive is the likelihood of the dangerous idea of Shi’ite empowerment spreading to Saudi Arabia’s highly restive Shi’ite regions adjoining Yemen, which on top of it all, also happen to be the reservoir of the country’s fabulous oil wealth.


Saudi Arabia is entering a highly sensitive phase of political transition as a new generation is set to take over the leadership in Riyadh, and the palace intrigues and fault lines within the royal family are likely to get exacerbated. To put it mildly, given the vast scale of institutionalized Shi’ite persecution in Saudi Arabia by the Wahhabi establishment, Shi’ite empowerment is a veritable minefield that Riyadh is petrified about at this juncture. Its threshold of patience is wearing thin, as the recent uncharacteristic resort to military power against the north Yemeni Shi’ite communities bordering Saudi Arabia testifies.


The US faces a classic dilemma. It is all right for Obama to highlight the need of reform in Muslim societies – as he did eloquently in his Cairo speech last June. But democratization in the Yemeni context – ironically, in the Arab context – would involve Shi’ite empowerment. After the searing experience in Iraq, Washington is literally perched like a cat on a hot tin roof. It would much rather be aligned with the repressive, autocratic government of Saleh than let the genie of reform out of the bottle in the oil rich-region in which it has profound interests.


Obama has an erudite mind and he is not unaware that what Yemen desperately needs is reform, but he simply doesn’t want to think about it. The paradox he faces is that with all its imperfections, Iran happens to be the only “democratic” system operating in that entire region.


Iran’s shadow over the Yemeni Shi’ite consciousness worries the US to no end. Simply put, in the ideological struggle going on in the region, Obama finds himself with the ultra-conservative and brutally autocratic oligarchies that constitute the ruling class in the region. Conceivably, he isn’t finding it easy. If his own memoirs are to be believed, there could be times when the vague recollections of his childhood in Indonesia and his precious memories of his own mother, who from all accounts was a free-wheeling intellectual and humanist, must be stalking him in the White House corridors.


ISRAEL MOVES IN:


But Obama is first and foremost a realist. Emotions and personal beliefs drain away and strategic considerations weigh uppermost when he works in the Oval Office. With the military presence in Yemen, the US has tightened the cordon around Iran. In the event of a military attack on Iran, Yemen could be put to use as a springboard by the Israelis. These are weighty considerations for Obama.


The fact is that no one is in control as a Yemeni authority. It is a cakewalk for the formidable Israeli intelligence to carve out a niche in Yemen – just as it did in northern Iraq under somewhat comparable circumstances.


Islamism doesn’t deter Israel at all. Saleh couldn’t have been far off the mark when he alleged last year that Israeli intelligence had been exposed as having kept links with Yemeni Islamists. The point is, Yemeni Islamists are a highly fragmented lot and no one is sure who owes what sort of allegiance to whom. Israeli intelligence operates marvelously in such twilight zones when the horizon is lacerated with the blood of the vanishing sun.


Israel will find a toehold in Yemen to be a god-sent gift insofar as it registers its presence in the Arabian Peninsula. This is a dream come true for Israel, whose effectiveness as a regional power has always been seriously handicapped by its lack of access to the Persian Gulf region. The overarching US military presence helps Israel politically to consolidate its Yemeni chapter.


Without doubt, Petraeus is moving on Yemen in tandem with Israel (and Britain). But the “pro-West” Arab states with their rentier mentality have no choice except to remain as mute spectators on the sidelines.


Some among them may actually acquiesce with the Israeli security presence in the region as a safer bet than the spread of the dangerous ideas of Shi’ite empowerment emanating out of Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah. Also, at some stage, Israeli intelligence will begin to infiltrate the extremist Sunni outfits in Yemen, which are commonly known as affiliates of al-Qaeda. That is, if it hasn’t done that already. Any such link makes Israel an invaluable ally for the US in its fight against al-Qaeda. In sum, infinite possibilities exist in the paradigm that is taking shape in the Muslim world abutting into the strategic Persian Gulf.


IT’S ALL ABOUT CHINA:


Most important, however, for US global strategies will be the massive gain of control of the port of Aden in Yemen. Britain can vouchsafe that Aden is the gateway to Asia. Control of Aden and the Malacca Strait will put the US in an unassailable position in the “great game” of the Indian Ocean. The sea lanes of the Indian Ocean are literally the jugular veins of China’s economy. By controlling them, Washington sends a strong message to Beijing that any notions by the latter that the US is a declining power in Asia would be nothing more than an extravagant indulgence in fantasy.


In the Indian Ocean region, China is increasingly coming under pressure. India is a natural ally of the US in the Indian Ocean region. Both disfavor any significant Chinese naval presence. India is mediating a rapprochement between Washington and Colombo that would help roll back Chinese influence in Sri Lanka. The US has taken a u-turn in its Myanmar policy and is engaging the regime there with the primary intent of eroding China’s influence with the military rulers. The Chinese strategy aimed at strengthening influence in Sri Lanka and Myanmar so as to open a new transportation route towards the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and Africa, where it has begun contesting traditional Western economic dominance.



China is keen to whittle down its dependence on the Malacca Strait for its commerce with Europe and West Asia. The US, on the contrary, is determined that China remains vulnerable to the choke point between Indonesia and Malaysia.

An engrossing struggle is breaking out. The US is unhappy with China’s efforts to reach the warm waters of the Persian Gulf through the Central Asian region and Pakistan. Slowly but steadily, Washington is tightening the noose around the neck of the Pakistani elites – civilian and military – and forcing them to make a strategic choice between the US and China. This will put those elites in an unenviable dilemma. Like their Indian counterparts, they are inherently “pro-Western” (even when they are “anti-American”) and if the Chinese connection is important for Islamabad, that is primarily because it balances perceived Indian hegemony.

The existential questions with which the Pakistani elites are grappling are apparent.

They are seeking answers from Obama. Can Obama maintain a balanced relationship vis-a-vis Pakistan and India? Or, will Obama lapse back to the George W Bush era strategy of building up India as the pre-eminent power in the Indian Ocean under whose shadow Pakistan will have to learn to live?


US-INDIA-ISRAEL AXIS:


On the other hand, the Indian elites are in no compromising mood. Delhi was on a roll during the Bush days. Now, after the initial misgivings about Obama’s political philosophy, Delhi is concluding that he is all but a clone of his illustrious predecessor as regards the broad contours of the US’s global strategy – of which containment of China is a core template.


The comfort level is palpably rising in Delhi with regard to the Obama presidency. Delhi takes the surge of the Israeli lobby in Washington as the litmus test for the Obama presidency. The surge suits Delhi, since the Jewish lobby was always a helpful ally in cultivating influence in the US Congress, media and the rabble-rousing think-tankers as well as successive administrations. And all this is happening at a time when the India-Israel security relationship is gaining greater momentum.


United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates is due to visit Delhi in the coming days. The Obama administration is reportedly adopting an increasingly accommodative attitude toward India’s longstanding quest for “dual-use” technology from the US. If so, a massive avenue of military cooperation is about to open between the two countries, which will make India a serious challenger to China’s growing military prowess. It is a win-win situation as the great Indian arms bazaar offers highly lucrative business for American companies.


Clearly, a cozy three-way US-Israel-India alliance provides the underpinning for all the maneuvering that is going on. It will have significance for the security of the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula. Last year, India formalized a naval presence in Oman.

All-in-all, terrorism experts are counting the trees and missing the wood when they analyze the US foray into Yemen in the limited terms of hunting down al-Qaeda. The hard reality is that Obama, whose main plank used to be “change”, has careened away and increasingly defaults to the global strategies of the Bush era. The freshness of the Obama magic is dissipating. Traces of the “revisionism” in his foreign policy orientation are beginning to surface. We can see them already with regard to Iran, Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Israel-Palestine problem, Central Asia and towards China and Russia.


Arguably, this sort of “return of the native” by Obama was inevitable. For one thing, he is but a creature of his circumstances. As someone put it brilliantly, Obama’s presidency is like driving a train rather than a car: a train cannot be “steered”, the driver can at best set its speed, but ultimately, it must run on its tracks.

Besides, history has no instances of a declining world power meekly accepting its destiny and walking into the sunset. The US cannot give up on its global dominance without putting up a real fight. And the reality of all such momentous struggles is that they cannot be fought piece-meal. You cannot fight China without occupying Yemen.
Source: Geopolitical blog


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